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Oil Heads for First Weekly Decline; Saudis Maintain Production

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- West Texas Intermediate oil traded near a two-week low, heading for the first weekly decline in nine weeks. Saudi Arabia kept production near 9 million barrels for a second month, helping to maintain OPEC output at close to the group’s official ceiling.

Futures were little changed after sliding a second day yesterday. Saudi Arabia produced 9.05 million barrels a day in January, little changed from December when output reached the lowest in 20 months, a Gulf official with knowledge of the country’s oil policy said on condition of anonymity. London- traded Brent’s premium to WTI expanded a seventh day to the widest in more than a month yesterday.

Crude for March delivery was at $95.93 a barrel, up 10 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:24 a.m. Sydney time. The contract slid 79 cents to $95.83 yesterday, the lowest since Jan. 25. The volume of all contracts traded was 86 percent below the 100-day average. Prices are down 1.9 percent this week.

Brent for March settlement climbed 51 cents to $117.24 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange yesterday. The European benchmark grade closed at a premium of $21.41 to WTI futures, the widest since Dec. 14.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries trimmed output by 465,000 barrels a day in December to 30.4 million. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude, supplied 9.26 million barrels a day to the market, compared with 9.15 million the previous month, the Persian Gulf official said.

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